Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Category Archives: Romance

Book Review: Echo 8

Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn FisherThis was a quick, easy read — I finished it in one sitting.

Echo 8 is a blend of science fiction and romance that manages to treat both genres with respect. In other words, it works as both a science fiction novel and as a romance novel. The scifi is exciting and plausible enough to suspend disbelief for, and the romance is engaging without taking over the story.

I particularly enjoyed the worldbuilding element — the idea that a disaster caused some people from one dimension to transfer into another closely related dimension where they live as energy parasites — needing to feed in order to survive. The world continued to develop throughout the book in intriguing ways.

The characters were fairly well done, although limited time was spent on developing them. I usually don’t like love triangles, but this one managed to work for me, in part because it was always obvious which one Tess would choose.

My one complaint about this book is hard to describe … it’s a sense that there could have been more. The book was fast-paced, yes, but at times I would almost say rushed. I would have liked to see a more gradual progression of the major plots, more time spent on character development, and more time spent on the resolution (which came about too easily for my taste).

I do recommend this book to readers who love both scifi and romance.

Book Review: Wanted: Undead or Alive (Love at Stake #12)

Wanted: Undead or Alive (Love at Stake, #12)

When I saw that this would be the story of Phineas and Brynley, I have to admit I wasn’t excited. Phineas, though quite a characters, has always struck me as very immature. And Brynley is prickly.

BUT … I actually liked it. There was better characterization in this story than I’ve seen in many of the prequels, and these two managed to set themselves apart. Turns out, Phineas has grown up in the 5 years since he was turned into a vampire and wants to be taken more seriously. And Brynley has extremely good reasons for being so prickly.

We dove further into the shifter world in this volume, with Brynley, the daughter of a pack alpha, having to deal with the fact that apparently alpha werewolves are complete a@@($)*@. This was a different view of shifters than I’ve previously run into. I’m still not sure what I think of it.

At any rate, after a few wobbly books, this series is back on track. 🙂

Book Review: Sexiest Vampire Alive (Love at Stake, #11)

Sexiest Vampire Alive (Love at Stake, #11)Gregory is a 100% bottle-fed vampire. That is to say, he’s never bitten a mortal; he has survived entirely on synthetic blood. So he seems like the perfect person to go talk to the president, who has recently learned of the existence of vampires, to try to persuade him that he is no threat. Gregory is successful largely due to Abigail, the president’s eldest daughter, who needs help saving her mother’s life.

The gloves came off in regards to “love at first sight” in this book. The two were making love almost as soon as they were alone together and saying “I love you” by the midpoint of the book! And this despite the fact that Abigail is a brilliant scientist who got a PhD in her early 20s ….

…turn brain off. Must turn brain off!

That’s better. 🙂

Actually, the series has been spiraling downhill (IMHO) for a few books, but I thought it started to get back on track here. We’ve got a new enemy, new characters, and it was nice to see a vampire who wasn’t centuries old fall in love. Gregory can still give his mortal mother grandchildren before she dies. 🙂

Book Review: Eat Prey Love (Love at Stake #9)

Eat Prey Love (Love at Stake, #9)This corny vampire series continues in book 9, when Shana’s sister Caitlyn comes for her nephew’s birthday party and gets thrust into a world she never imagined. She instantly falls in love with Carlos, a jaguar shape-shifter trying to save his species from extinction. But in order to do that, he must marry and have children with a jaguar shifter like himself.

It was nice to get a break from the vamps in this volume. This story took us into China, where we meet a new enemy who will hopefully keep this series from stagnating. 🙂

I have to admit, though, that the romance in this book didn’t work for me. Granted, this series is never going to step away from the “love at first sight” style, and that’s fine. It’s not my favorite setup but I can accept it. The trouble is the sameness of the characters and the way the romances keep working out. For Caitlyn, in particular, I didn’t entirely buy into her forcefulness — not when she was supposed to be afraid she was unworthy of love. It just seemed like a contradiction to me.

The Vampire and the Virgin (Love at Stake, #8)

The Vampire and the Virgin (Love at Stake, #8)Book 8 in the Love at Stake series gives us another male vampire and female mortal with a gift — this time she’s an empath and human lie detector. Apparently she’s a virgin because no man has ever been completely honest to her. So of course she decides to get together with a vampire who she can’t read at all. Really?!?

Okay, I had trouble suspending disbelief on this one. Partly it was because I feel like the series is stagnating. I can’t tell Robby apart from any of the other vampires in previous volumes, nor Olivia from the other women. And honestly, if I were a human lie detector and empath, I don’t think I’d fall for a guy in less than a week if I couldn’t read him. (I mean, maybe over time this would turn out to be a relief or something, although even then … I don’t know. I guess I believe in honest men. I married one, after all. Seriously, the man couldn’t lie to save his life!)

I’m kind of hoping we get into more shifters soon. Or that something else happens to move the main plot along. We did meet a couple of fun new characters who might be interesting going forward.

Book Review: Forbidden Nights with a Vampire (Love at Stake, #7)

Forbidden Nights with a Vampire (Love at Stake, #7)Vanda has an anger problem. A big anger problem. It has to do with some past trauma that she’s not letting anyone know about. But when Phil, one of the day guards, agrees to be her anger management sponsor, she might have met her match.

It was nice to see a female vampire in the starring role for a change. And I was interested in Phil, the werewolf, since I’ve always had more of thing for werewolves than vampires. I have to admit, though, that it was nice (in the previous books) to know that (thanks to Roman’s genius) the male vampires and female mortals could have children together. It would have been nice for Roman to find an answer for the undead women as well. Seems kind of sexist, doesn’t it?

But I digress. 🙂

I liked Vanda, for all her hurt and attitude. I’m not sure how much I bought into her relationship with Phil. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what they had in common. But okay, don’t take these books too seriously right?

Book Review: Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake, #6)

Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake, #6)The undead son of Cassinova has quite a reputation to live up to!

Jack meets Lara when he throws a bachelor party for Ian and things get a bit out of control. Lara, a police officer, is called to the disturbance. It shouldn’t have been a big deal. All Jack had to do was erase her memory. It worked fine on her partner. And the paramedics. And hotel security …

But Lara won’t forget, and she can’t get Jack out of her mind. When a student goes missing from a local university and her roommate shows signs of memory loss, Lara hopes Jack isn’t at fault — and that he can help her find answers.

I have to admit that while the silliness of guessing what Jack was (alien, bionic man, lizard man, etc.) kept me entertained, I’m getting a bit weary of the fact that a man is a vampire is the main romantic conflict. It might work better if the women’s responses were significantly different from one another.

I’d also like to see some movement of the overarching plot. Time to kill the big bad guy and find a bigger badder guy. 🙂

But the charm of this series does continue.

Book Review: The Undead Next Door (Love at Stake, #4)

The Undead Next Door (Love at Stake, #4)Jean Luc, famous French fashion designer and vampire, has to go into hiding because people are starting to wonder why he hasn’t aged in 70 years! He decides to his out in Texas, where he meets Heather, schoolteacher, single mom, and aspiring designer. Although she’d prefer to design clothes for real women.

Aside: Has anyone ever noticed that the concept of designing clothes for women bigger around than my thumb is very popular in books, but never seems to penetrate the actual fashion industry? Just saying…

Anyway, Heather is in danger when Jean Luc’s ancient enemy decides she’s his woman. Unfortunately, he’s killed several of Jean Luc’s women in the past, and Jean Luc is determined to save this one.

We also learn in this book that vampires aren’t the only supernatural creatures in this author’s world. There are werewolves too. I like werewolves. 🙂

Book Review: Be Still My Vampire Heart (Love at Stake, #3)

Be Still My Vampire Heart (Love at Stake, #3)This quirky series continues with Emma, the vampire slayer, out to rid the world of vampires. Except the malcontents (the bad vampires) don’t think a mere human could possibly kill them, so they blame the good vampires. Angus, a 500-year-old vampire, is charged with convincing Emma to discard her deadly mission, but first he has to convince her not to kill him.

I’m enjoying the way the books in this series build upon one another. The characters from the previous books are never truly gone, and there are fun new characters being introduced all the time (Dr. Fang, newly turned vampire from the Bronx).

Book Review: Vampire and the City (Love at Stake #2)

Vamps and the City (Love at Stake, #2)The silly fun continues in this second book in a vampire series that works by not taking itself too seriously. In this volume, Darcy, a young vampire recently freed from Roman’s harem, wants to get a serious job reporting the news like she did in her human life. But in the vampire world there’s only one network — DVN (Digital Vampire Network — “On 24 hours because it’s always nighttime somewhere!”) The trouble is, vamps are sexist. She only got the interview because Darcy isn’t an obviously feminine name and in the end, instead of getting a job as a journalist, she gets to produce the first vampire reality show — “The Sexist Man Alive!”

But Darcy isn’t convinced, as others are, that the sexist man alive will necessarily be a vampire. She decides to mix things up by casting some humans. That’s when Austin comes in. He’s a member of the Stake Out team, which is investigating vampire activity. We met Austin in book #1, when Shawn was kidnapped by her father, the head of the Stake Out team. Well, her father is on a mission now — a mission to find and rescue his happily married daughter from her vicious vampire hubby. When he learns about the new reality show, he fixes the casting so that two of his agents will get picked, including Austin.

Austin is instantly attracted to Darcy, but he doesn’t want to believe she’s a vampire. He wants to believe she’s in trouble and can’t escape the evil monsters.

I am continuing to enjoy this series. I liked Darcy’s story, and I liked the way this book ended (sorry, no spoilers). The romance continues to be (and I suspect will always be) “love at first sight” but there’s enough other stuff going on that I can forgive it. Besides, this isn’t the sort of book you want to take too seriously. 🙂